America Movil trims 2024 capex to $7 billion on less spectrum spend

By Thomson Reuters Feb 14, 2024 | 10:11 AM

By Cassandra Garrison and Sarah Morland

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) -Mexican telecommunications giant America Movil said on Wednesday it expected reduced capital expenditure of around $7 billion this year, following years of significant spending on buying spectrum and refreshing its network infrastructure.

This compares with spending of $8.6 billion in 2023.

In a call with analysts, finance chief Carlos Garcia said the reduced capex was the result of significant prior spending on wireless infrastructure. This year, Garcia said, the firm’s only significant spectrum spend should be in Ecuador.

“We’re in very good shape right now with all the investments we have been doing in the last three, last five years,” Garcia said.

“We’re going to reduce this year to $7 billion for capex … we’re still going to be growing in every country in Latin America and Europe, and developing fiber and growing also in 5G,” he added.

America Movil, controlled by the family of Mexican tycoon Carlos Slim, posted a better-than-expected net profit of over $1 billion in its fourth-quarter results a day earlier, even as a stronger peso diluted overseas revenue and it faced sky-high inflation in Argentina.

The capex changes will allow for a better budget on America Movil’s broadband operations, Garcia said, noting that customers were reacting well to combining internet packages with membership to streaming platforms.

Executives said they were expecting some changes to measures that impact the company in Mexico. The country’s telecoms regulator has historically declined to grant authorization for America Movil to enter the pay-TV market, a move that has hindered the firm’s expansion in its home country.

“I don’t think they should regulate more … we expect that they deregulate some of the measures,” Garcia said.

Regulatory changes in Colombia were a challenge, but America Movil will maintain investments there, Garcia said. Its Claro subsidiary has eyed spending of $1.11 billion this year to improve services and roll out 5G coverage.

America Movil will hang on to its holding in Telekom Austria, which it increased to 58% in November last year, and sees further growth in the European country, executives said.

The firm was helped by market-share gains in Brazil, where Garcia said the company would look to hike its prices if there is an opportunity to do so.

(Reporting by Sarah Morland and Cassandra Garrison in Mexico CityEditing by Matthew Lewis)